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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Applegate Waterfall Rescue

I left work early to meet up with Skyler,Brock and others to run upper applegate.  We ran both sections and Brock decided he wanted to go up and run the waterfall as he has done numerous times before without issues.  Today was a different story, I went below and set safety on the other side of the river as I have in the past.  It's mostly smooth slippery rock covered in moss so footing isn't the best.  As he came over the falls I could tell he didn't flush as quickly to the center of the current as he normally does, he rolled up and was sucked into the cave and rolled.  I fought the urge to throw the bag until I thought he could see me, I threw it and it went behind him. I should have yelled before throwing the bag, so he would be aware of it.

I thought it might work over to him so I left it for a few seconds then pulled it in, the second attempt was worthless as well, I gathered myself and the bag and told him to hold on, this time I yelled ready and was able to get it to him.  Let me stop here and say I feel bad I feel like I could have cost him his life by not performing under pressure as well as I should have.  As you begin kayaking you start to build skills and you want to push limits further to test yourself, to get that high, to get that feeling of accomplishment.  I have never taken a swift water rescue course but now will be saving up money so I can be better prepared for situations like this because it won't be the last.

After Brock got ahold of the rope I new fairly quickly the current was stronger than I was and looked up at Skyler and Darin and told them to get down to me.  It was a fight, I was pulling as hard as I could and slipping and pulling,it felt like my skin was being tore from my hands. Brock yelled" help" and I could see the fear on his face, I thought he was at a point of letting go, I yelled back "hold on" don't let go. I yelled back for someone else to get over to me, Skyler threw another bag over which caught up in mine, he was able to drag the end of mine to him, while he did that Darin jumped in and came across to help pull.  We had three of us pulling at that point I was just hoping the rope didn't go limp at that point.  Brock was barely able to hold on to the loop at the end of the bag and make it out.

That was the most intense kayaking day of my life, it could have easily turned out different.  I started to feel really bad on the drive out.  I started second guessing what I'd done and thinking about what I should have done differently. I can tell you that you need two people on that side of the falls doing safety unless one's built like Arnold.  The current is deceptively strong and flushes hard to the back of the cave.  If I can think of anything to add I will I'm mentally exhausted from today's ordeal.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Taylor Creek

I put out an email saturday to see if anyone wanted to run applegate on sunday, I included a link for the gauge estimates.  It was supposed to be high, well sunday came and the plan changed to graves creek and before we knew it we were checking the paddlers gauge on taylor creek after morrison's lodge.  The water was about 3 inches up the angled concrete, Scot said we were good to go.  As we steadily climbed uphill on the road I was calm my nerves were in check, I was ready to paddle. It was a short hike in, the first rapid is about 100 yards after the put in.  As we were scouting the rapid all I heard was bear I looked up to see a healthy broad shouldered bear staring at us intently.  I thought it was gonna come at us until Scot yelled and waved his hands, it promptly turned and ran away like a small dog.

The first rapid had an easy lead in straight into a boulder, Clayton pitoned, Kipper got rolled,I did a 180 and Scot ran it great.  I ran the second rapid to far right hit a rock and got slammed into the rock on the other side, Kipper ended up getting pinned and a short rescue ensued.  Almost the whole run is boulder gardens and small drops, the scenery was awesome.  It's in a deep drainage, so it doesn't take alot of water to make it boatable.  We had to portage a couple logs that could be deadly if your not careful, the first one is around a corner. It's best to start the portage high as footing above the log is minimal.  The second one is easily seen and is portage about 65 yards above it.

It starts to calm down the last 3/4 to 1/2 mile their is several logs that you have to duck under on the way out.  Scot said it was an easier run than carberry creek class 4, well Kipper, Clayton and I thought it was more technical, we did alot of scouting to make sure the rapids were free of wood and to pick the best lines.  It took us about 4 hours to go 3 miles it was a long day I'm still sore from it, but I had alot of fun and am looking forward to running it again.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Our lower rogue trip was cancelled and we were searching for something else to do as we all still had time off from work.  Nick came up with the elk and sf coquille, I had been wanting to hit the elk for over a year after reading about it on  A couple of use left saturday morning and stayed in Gold Beach for a day at the Ireland Rustic Lodges, I highly recommend staying their if your heading that way.
We met up with Nick,Scott, and Kipper sunday morning in Port Orford had breakfast and headed towards the elk. You can see some of the major rapids your gonna run from the road, the water quality was excellent and the rapids were good quality class III-IV. I ended up portaging the first major rapid with a buddy and ended up walking pretty far as I didn't see were he walked back down. I missed a couple rapids and eventually found a way down and ran the last mini gorge with the crew, it was the best part of the run.  Scott was the probe for us and lead us down weaving through the gorge, avoiding the holes. 

When we finished up we headed towards Powers and the sf coquille river, we found our campsite for the night along the river, drank some beer had chilli dogs and talked about many things including kayaking of course.  It started to rain a little and I thought we might be in for some higher water in the morning but it seemed to subside fairly quick. In the morning we were packed up by ten, Steve decided to spend the day with his girlfriend so he was out. They took off down the road to drop the truck off at the take out along with my helmet, I ended up getting a ride down by a ranger listening to hillbilly outlaw music on xm radio.

When I got back Nick had decided he would drive the truck back down as we may have had a hard time finding a ride back to the truck.  My arms were hurting from the day before and I was nervous about the run looking at it from the road up their is some serious consequence to making mistakes, this river has alot of sieves and undercuts to watch out for.  We started down the river and before I knew it I was swimming, my roll has been non existant lately.  I think the swim helped calm my nerves some amazing how that works, before we knew it we were at the first major rapid. It has a large log coming from the hillside on the left into the river at about a 45 degree angle. This marks the entrance to the 8' drop, you go through a small hydraulic and paddle to the right of the big boulder in the center.  I dropped through the first part and was facing right paddling hard to eddy out when I dropped in a wave and missed my brace, I bailed quick as I knew I didn't have time to mess around. I swam like an Olympian and made it out in time to see Kipper go off the drop get rolled and swim.  His paddle was pushed up against and undercut rock and sucked under never to be seen again.

My day ended at that rapid, Kipper swam across to get my boat and paddle to bring it back across, he used my paddle to go another mile or so with Scott after retrieving his boat. We changed ate some lunch and headed back home leaving the rest of the run for another day( in the works as i type) .  We have to go back and get some redemption I always feel more comfortable the second time. I'm working on my roll to gain it back, after not practicing it during the winter I have lost good form and confidence but I will regain it and move on. These are two beautiful runs with great rapids and scenery, they are well worth the expense to travel to.